Tag Archives: budget

Links for October 31st

Links for October 20th

  • Planet Money: What If We Paid Off The Debt?
    Back in the good old days—before President George W. Bush, before fighting two wars, before September 11th, before a huge tax cut paid for with debt—it looked very much like the entire debt would be paid off by 2012. In producing the final Economic Report of the President, a researcher looked into what would happen when that happened. As it turned out, it would be terrible. Treasury bonds make the investment world go 'round. No debt, no t-bonds. The conclusion of the never-published report was that it was important to maintain some debt in order to maintain treasury bonds.
  • The New York World: Women ride in back on sex-segregated Brooklyn bus line
    A Brooklyn bus—part of the city's public bus line—is franchised to a private company, though generally indistinguishable from any other city bus, intended to serve the Hasidic community in Williamsburg and Borough Park. It's the bus line's rule that women have to sit in the back of the bus. You can see how this story progresses. The issue of religious freedom vs. civil rights vs. free enterprise isn't wholly open-and-shut but, as a rule, anybody making an argument that a certain class of people should have to sit in the back of the bus automatically loses the debate.
  • American Geophysical Union: Words matter
    This vocabulary guide accompanies an article ("Communicating the Science of Climate Change") in the October issue of Physics Today, explaining to research scientists that some of the words that they use to communicate among themselves simply confuse the public. "Manipulation" of data means simply to process it, but the public thinks it means to tamper with it. A "scheme" is just a plan, but that's perceived as being illicit. A "theory" is the basic unit of scientific knowledge, but people think a theory is different from a fact. These are important, as has been observed with natural selection ("evolution is just a theory!") and global climate change ("those hacked e-mails said that were manipulating the data!").

Links for August 2nd

  • Aloha Editor
    I love this HTML5 WYSIWYG editor. They had me at the introductory paragraph, what with the editing of it. I haven't implemented it anywhere, but I love the concept.
  • Slow Clap for Congress
    Dear Congress, For your leadership, your maturity, and your inspiring ability to perform the basic duties of your job, We applaud you.
  • PolitiFact: Florida state investment chief says transparency was a big issue for lawmakers in 2011
    Here's a great use of legislative video: to fact-check a claim that financial transparency "got a great airing" during a recent session. PolitiFact Florida checked the video and calculated that a total of 36 minutes was spent on the topic, 25 minutes from just one senator. Legislative video is important stuff.
  • Internet Archive: Mother’s Best Flour
    This collection of songs from the "Mother's Best Flour" radio show is a must-listen for country fans. There are 70 shows of Hank Williams’ performances, from 1950–1951, many of which include first-ever performances of some classics. Each show includes in-studio chatter, which is fun to listen to, along with the constant promotions for the advertiser's brand of flour.

Links for July 25th

  • New York Times: Policy Changes Under Two Presidents
    This chart of new costs versus savings under Presidents Bush and Obama is really striking. The total cost of Obama's new policies comes to $1.44T. Bush's? $5.07T. Just his tax cuts alone cost more than Obama's policies, at $1.8T. Once you figure in two wars, TARP, and the stimulus, we're talking about a great deal of money indeed.
  • Wikipedia: States Rights Gist
    CSA Brigadier General States Rights Gist, born in 1831, had a father who felt very strongly about politics. His family, from South Carolina, called him "States." He died at the Battle of Franklin, in 1864.
  • Library of Congress: Soldier’s Joy
    This tune has been played on nearly every instrument known to man since at least the late 1700s, which is as far back as historians have traced it. The version with lyrics dates only to 1957, when Jimmy Driftwood wrote them. Nearly every version that I've heard has been instrumental. Courtesy of the LoC, you can even hear a 1938 recording of Albert Gore and his band performing it at the National Folk Festival. If you're not familiar with Gore, you'll at least know of his son, Vice President Al Gore.

Links for July 24th

  • Talking Points Memo: White House—We Thought We Were Down To The Details
    Turns out the real reason that Boehner walked out on Obama on Friday is because Boehner demanded a repeal of the individual healthcare mandate. Which, ironically, would actually have worsened things, since the individual mandate will significantly reduce federal spending.
  • New York Times: Some Parents of Gay Children Push for Marriage
    I really enjoyed this article about the normalization of gay marriage having led to parents saying "OK, fine, you're gay, and now gay marriage is legal, so what's the holdup?" Gay or straight, kids are going to get nagged about marriage by their parents.
  • UC Berkeley: Agonized pose tells of dinosaur death throes
    So many fossilized dinosaurs were preserved in the same position: head and neck pulled backwards, bent halfway down the back. There has long been a standard explanation for this—drying tendons and ligaments pulled them into this shape—but attempts to simulate this in animal corpses have all failed. A new theory is that this is consistent with damage to the central nervous system, specifically damage to the cerebellum, perhaps through infection from algal blooms.
  • AP: October 2010 Newsletter
    It was only last fall that the Associated Press stopped distributing their news via satellite and moved to an internet-based distribution system. Wow.

Links for July 16th

Links for July 12th

  • GitHub: nysenatecio/OpenLegislation
    The New York Senate's online legislative repository is available on Github. Very impressive.
  • Reuters: It pays to be Murdoch. Just ask US gov’t.
    Over the past four years, not only has News Corp. not paid income taxes, they've actually gamed the system to collect $4.8B in tax refunds. Murdoch has 152 subsidiaries spread among tax havens throughout the world, and uses them to make *us* pay *him*, via our government.
  • The Daily Beast: Debt Crisis Deepens as Eric Cantor, GOP Propose New Cuts
    Eric Cantor proposed to the president that college students start making payments on student loans immediately, rather than waiting until graduation. Apparently Cantor doesn't know any actual college students. To his credit, the president responded, "I’m not going to take money from old people and screw students."

Links for July 9th

  • GAO: Replacing the $1 Note with a $1 Coin Would Provide a Financial Benefit to the Government
    Getting rid of the $1 bill would save the government $184M/year. Not an enormous amount, on the scale of the budget, but there's no getting around that $184M is a very large amount of money indeed. Ten years ago, it would have saved $522M/year, but the Treasury has improved the technology that they use to identify and destroy worn notes—it used to be overload broad, but that's fixed, allowing lots of bills to stay in circulation longer.
  • The Economist: America’s debt—Shame on them
    The Economist, a relatively staid and conservative publication, has run an editorial in which they describe Republicans' stance on the debt ceiling as "economically illiterate and disgracefully cynical." They go on to describe Republicans as "unprincipled," as not being "real tax reformers," and conclude by declaring that "the blame falls clearly on the Republicans" in debt talks. Yup.
  • PolitiFact: Allen says China owns more U.S. bonds than Americans
    It's not even close. Of $14.3T of national debt, China owns $1.2T. The U.S. government owns $6T. $3.8T is privately held. When confronted with the facts, the Allen campaign claimed that they were talking only about debt held by ordinary American investors, but the numbers that they cited to back up that claim actually proved the opposite. I hope NBC-29 runs a correction. Lord knows Allen won't admit that he's full of shit.

“The American people.”

A pet peeve of mine: Politicians who insist on talking about what “the American people” want, and what “the American people” think. Every politician who says that believes that—in a striking coincidence—what the American people want happens to be precisely what said politician wants.

Never noticed this? You will now. You can hear an example of this in All Things Considered’s interview with Rep. Tom Price (R-GA) this evening, in which he says:

The American people know that tax increases don’t create a single job. […] The American people are not interested in having the tax [sic] increased, the American people understand that Washington spends way too much money, and we need to get our fiscal house in order…

(Also alarming in this story is Price’s response to a question from host Melissa Block as to whether the failure to raise the debt ceiling would be an economic calamity, to which he responds: “I don’t know—we’ve never been in this situation.”)

A good politician will take about what he thinks and what he thinks is right for the country. A suck-up politician leans on his claims about what “the American people” think—meaning that either he’s governing by poll results or he’s pretending to govern by poll results. You can decide which is worse.